Notre Dame-Arizona State: 5 Things To Know
In a game of matching touchdowns, Notre Dame left Maryland with a win over Navy and a late surge by a young defense that will need to re-adjust with some injuries to key players and a vaunted Arizona State team up next.
5 Things To Know
1: The Irish Must Prepare For Another Athletic Quarterback
The gameplans for each game are uniquely different, and the Irish must trend from their triple option sets to a somewhat more conventional style with yet another dual threat passer on the horizon-Taylor Kelly:
Coach Brian Kelly:
"It was interesting, the last series(against Navy) when they started throwing the ball, we were getting into our base familiar calls, and the guys were obviously teeing off and getting after the quarterback. You could see there was a different sense of not relief, but they were getting after the quarterback in a way that they're used to."
"It'll be a quick transition and one that, like I had mentioned to you before, we ran some 7-on-7 and did some things to keep our calls active, knowing that it was going to be a quick transition."
This makes the 6th multi-talented quarterback the Irish have faced or will face this Saturday.
2: College Football Meets Nyles Morgan
The loss of Joe Schmidt Saturday offers yet another oppurtunity for one more heralded recruit, Nyles Morgan- to step in and and stamp his star rating. Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder offered some insight to the prospect and his abilities:
"It's been tough. Again, it's a lot of defense and it's been difficult for him to be able to learn it all, let alone then communicate it all, to everybody. So you know, I'll tell you, he definitely has a real resilience about himself. I'm on him a lot. A lot of coaching pressure on him, and he holds up really well. He doesn't flinch. It's going to happen. It's going to come. It's no different than I had rookie linebackers in the NFL, that first year was like, they were confused, they just couldn't do it. And again, I'm hopeful with him, because of his demeanor, that he'll get it. It'll come. And he's got some really, really outstanding physical traits."
In last year's game, freshman Jaylon Smith jumped off the page and showed college football who perhaps the nations best up-and-coming linebacker was.
Oh the irony for Morgan. The shoes of Schmidt are huge one's to fill, and no person should suggest leadership roles will be assumed from Morgan. But when it comes strictly to performance and capabilities- this is one kid many should never doubt.
After all, he does go by OBEY PRIDE on Twitter.
For those that know the player and saw his performance this past Saturday late in the game, look for similiar plays this weekend from Morgan.
Alongside Morgan and Smith, players like Greer Martini, Drue Tranquill and Romeo Okwara, who also played a major role last year- will need to play some of their best football on the year as a unit.
Morgan wears #5.
Many will automatically remember Manti Teo.
That's a large calling, but it should be noted Nyles Morgan will stamp his place in Notre Dame history soon.
And it get's rolling Saturday.
3: Taylor Kelly-Enough Said
Having missed 3 games due to injury, the dynamic signal caller for the Sun Devils has returned to nearly the same form he had in 2013 with his scrambling abilities alone.
Forget who your rooting for in this game: College football has 2 of the nation's best pitted against each other yet again.
Last Saturday's game against a top defense in Utah still offered some good numbers for Kelly, who completed 56 percent of his passes.
And of concern for the Irish defense yet again is another passer who can pull it down and go. Even though Kelly gave up four sacks against the Ute's- his ability to escape a tough defense surfaced again ,as he ran for 55 yards.
Overall, he is a competitor that can do alot and kill defenses- but can also hurt himself in the process:
*Kelly is an efficiant passer so far on the year, with a combined passer rating of 147.6
*His run first aspect provides sacks galor: 39 in 2012, 31 in 2011
*In 2012 and 2013, Kelly passed for over 3000 yards each year
*The last 3 years, Kelly has thrown for 66 total touchdowns
*In 2013, Kelly was unstoppable on 1st and 10 and 2nd and 10 downs with a 148 rating (On those downs, he completed over 60% of his passes.)
*In 2013 against the Irish, he was 33 of 47 for 362 yards and 3 touchdowns along with 2 interceptions
4: The Irish Defense Has To Improve
In the last 3 games, the young and talented Irish defense has provided oppurtunities to score for other teams.
The unit has given up 113 total points to Navy, North Carolina and Florida State.
In the previous 5 games?
The last 3 games magnified some weaknesses, and the Sun Devils can take advantage of several of those.
Alongside Taylor, a former prospect for the Irish in runningback DJ Foster adds alot of firepower- not only as a back- but as a receiver.
Foster is averaging 11.9 yards per reception along with his 700 plus yards rushing.
Several things can happen with those type of players.
What cannot happen this Saturday for example, is something that took place against Florida State with a lead in the 4th quarter and on the road.
On the Noles final touchdown drive, the Irish defense yeilded passing completions of 15,11,7 and 16 yards.
Whatever gameplan Brian VanGorder draws upon this Saturday, it will have to be one of his best yet.
Throw in a hostile crowd, on the road- and expectations change dramatically. Against FSU, the 1st half Irish unit envoked talk of the 2012 unit. Coming off a scoring fest against North Carolina, the overwhelming opinion was the Noles and Jameis Winston could equal or double the output of the Tar Heels.
The Irish held true for about 3 total quarters when you consider the final drive for FSU. Pinned deep late in the fourth, Notre Dame held the Noles rushing unit to -2 yards rushing. On consecutive plays, Dalvin Cook had runs of -5 and -3 yards.
That defense, much like the one that played in Dallas in 2013- must reveal itself again this Saturday if the Irish hope to win.
5: The Sun Devil Defense Will Help The Irish
Many assumed the opinion of the Sun Devil defense as 'up-and-coming' and 'revitalized' after losing some key players like Will Sutton to the NFL last year.
What stands out in 2014, is teams that have prolific offenses can move the ball on the Sun Devils and score.
Although the Sun Devil defense is 50th in the country with 24 points per game, teams that are in the mold of the Irish as far as talent -like USC and UCLA- have averaged 30 points a game.
The benefactor of all this is the potent Irish offense in a warm environment.
This will be an athmosphere much like Florida State was.
Warm, large crowd and a 'prime time' of sorts audience again.
A player like Everett Golson should thrive Saturday afternoon.
USC put up nearly 500 yards of offense, with 273 yards in the air and 220 yards on the ground. The Trojans also hogged the ball with a total time of possession of 37 minutes.
And it has been made very clear as to the player Everett Golson has become.
Nothing against Cody Kessler, but there aren't many better in the country then Golson.
No matter the environment or caliber of team he has played, Golson has played his best football this year as an Irish player.
22 touchdowns on the year has jettisoned the one time exiled quarterback into the Heisman conversation.
Trophy options aside, the team and more importantly the offense- is perhaps one of the most lethal in the country and should have another yardage producing day.
Will Fuller- 46 receptions, 599 yards, 9 touchdowns, 13 yards per
Corey Robinson- 29 receptions, 393 yards , 4 touchdowns , 13.6 yards per
Tarean Folston- 101 carries, 5.3 yard average, 12 receptions for 166 yards
Offense overall- 35 points per game
Starting off the 2014 season, many projected this game a loss for an Irish team many have since underestimated.
Early on Monday, a non-scientific poll favored an Irish win by 52%.
Forget polls and ESPN pundit lopsided opinions and the fact Todd Graham beat the Irish while with Tulsa, or the fancy uni's the Sun Devils will wear.
Put these 2 rosters together helmet to helmet.
Jimmy to Jimmy and Joe to Joe.
Coach to Coach.
Notre Dame wins this game.
But, this is college football.
And thus far, 2014 has yet to offer clarity.